It looks like I haven’t put any new stuff here for quite a while, but it’s only because I’ve been learning (about blogging), experimenting (with food and photography) and learning again. Yes, I have seen so many wonderful food blogs these past two weeks that I feel humbled – and challenged at the same time. Despite years of cooking for my family and friends, as well as a couple of employers recently, I find so much inspiration in this young talent around that I simply cannot stay rested. I know how much there is still out there to be learned and I hope, my dear reader, that you will not only see a solid improvement over time, but find a few useful tips here as well.
Today I’m bringing another very Slovak recipe, which is so apt for the season. It’s one of our fasting meals and its Slovak name is Hubová mačanka. Basically, it’s a mushroom dip – a simple, quick-to-do dish with a healthy twist.
Slovak Mushroom Dip
forest mushrooms (a handful of dried ones or two handfuls of fresh)
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup (200 ml) sauerkraut juice
4 heaped tablespoons fine four
bay leaf, garlic
salt and pepper to taste
oil or butter
fried bacon or sausages (optional)
With dried mushrooms, break the large pieces and soak them in cold water for about an hour. Drain them on a sieve before cooking.
When fresh mushrooms are used, clean and slice them. Heat the chicken or vegetable stock in a large saucepan, then add the mushrooms, pepper and bay leaf. Cook for about 20 minutes, carefully adjusting the heat so that the mushrooms don’t overflow.
Meanwhile, dry-saute the flour in a small pot until lightly charred. Put to one side. When it has cooled down, pour in the sauerkraut juice and stir well until a smooth roux has formed. Peel the garlic and crush it into the roux.
Pour the sauerkraut mixture (roux) into the simmering stock and stir constantly until it comes to the boil again and thickens. Season with the salt if needed.
Serve in small bowls with a tablespoon of hot butter or oil poured in the middle. Slovak Mushroom Dip is typically eaten with slices of fresh bread.
Outside of the fasting season, Slovak people will pour fried bacon cubes or sliced home-made sausage on top of each helping of mačanka. I didn’t have good, honest home-made sausages at home, so had to use a shop-bought one.
It tastes as delicious as it looks, believe me. The sauerkraut juice adds such zing to an otherwise plain dish, not to mention its health benefits. It is a by-product of white cabbage fermentation, which is traditionally performed in quite a few Slovak households. If you can’t get hold of sauerkraut juice though, you can use good quality vinegar instead.